Neil Patrick Harris Goes Through Grief in Netflix’s Uncoupled
How might Neil respond subtly to a new world? Neil Patrick Harris' new eight-episode Netflix comedy debuts Friday.
Neil Patrick Harris expects the rug to be pulled out from under him at any moment.
At least, that’s what he thought he was getting himself into when he agreed to play Michael, a real estate broker, in Netflix’s new romantic comedy series Uncoupled. In the show, Michael is surprised when his partner Colin (Tuc Watkins), a hedge fund manager, abandons him after 17 years of marriage. Michael unexpectedly finds himself in the midst of the New York City dating scene.
“Up until this job, I had spent the better part of a decade or so doing gigs that were as far removed from myself as possible,” Harris, 49, tells PEOPLE, citing previous roles such as How I Met Your Mother’s lothario Barney Stinson, A Series of Unfortunate Events’ villainous Count Ola, and Broadway’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch. “I had spent the better part of a decade doing gigs prior to this job.”
“I thought it was fun to play as many different versions of myself that were nothing like me,” he says. “It was thrilling to play as many different versions of myself that were nothing like me.”
Uncoupled, on the other hand, was created in collaboration with Darren Star (Sex and the City,…
And Just Like That) and Jeffrey Richman (Modern Family) gave Harris the opportunity to look into a life that was very similar to his own at the time.
Harris has been married to his 47-year-old husband David Burtka for 18 years; they married in 2014, and they have twin children named Harper and Gideon who is 11 years old.
The idea that the New Yorker would “play a nuanced comedy version of a life that’s very similar to my own in certain ways,” such as living in the same location and having the same length of relationship as he does now, but with a completely different trajectory, appealed to him.
He asks, “How would I, as Neil, react to a whole new world in a more understated manner?”
Throughout the series, Michael, who is currently heartbroken and still pines for his ex-girlfriend, struggles with how the world has changed in the last nearly 20 years, including the creation of dating apps like Grindr.
Michael is currently going through all five stages of grief as a result of the end of his relationship, according to Star. “He is trying to move on, but the pain he feels as a result of what happened is still with him, informing and coloring everything else he is going through.” As a result, while he can try to have a good time by going out for a wild night and having a great time, the reality of his life eventually gives him a stomach punch.”
Finally, for inspiration, the artists looked to real-life heartbreak experiences.
According to Richman, both Darren and I have personal experience with long-term gay partnerships in which one of the partner’s acts like Colin does toward Michael. “That struck us as a great starting point or jumping-off point for a romantic comedy, so we went with it.” The worst possible background from which one could have emerged.”
Uncoupled, on the other hand, does not allow Michael to linger for too long. Emerson Brooks as the celebrity weatherman, Tisha Campbell as the protagonist’s real estate agent partner Suzanne, and Stanley, the protagonist’s sensitive art dealer friend, all lend a helping hand to the protagonist as he tries to put his life back together (Brooks Ashmanskas).
To make matters worse, a particularly difficult new customer named Claire, played by Marcia Gay Harden, arrives to provide a distraction. Claire is a grumpy divorcee who puts Michael through the wringer while he tries to sell her expensive apartment.
“She stays in the stage of fury for her grief for a tremendously long time,” Harden says, “and it was such a pleasure to perform.” “She is so angry about everything,” a cast member says. “The angrier she got, the better it was for us.”
The show depicts in detail how the decision of one couple to end their relationship can devastate an entire friend circle.
“In a typical breakup comedy, the couple ends their relationship, the ex-partner turns out to be a jerk, and the hero eventually moves on with his life and finds happiness.” “However, this is a completely different show,” says Watkins, who plays Michael’s ex-girlfriend. “The plot of Uncoupled revolves around a breakup and everything that happens as a result of it.”
Harris’ fearless approach to his work on set, whether it was falling backward while skiing in the Catskills or Michael’s newly single sex scenes, is praised by Star. The film “Star” is executive produced by Star.
“In these sequences, I felt like Neil was doing the same thing,” he adds. “I felt like Neil was doing the same thing as the character Michael, who is taking a lot of wild risks in his life that he’s never taken before.” “And it had nothing to do with sex… Neil would frequently engage in risky behavior on the show, both literally and metaphorically.”
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Uncoupled was Harris’ exploration of appreciating the humor that all too frequently accompanies tragic events.
“When I talked to people who saw it, someone said in a pretty perceptive way that that’s what life is,” he adds. “No one says anything when I talk to friends who haven’t seen it.” “If you don’t have a breakup, everything is just miserable all the time,” she explained.
Uncoupled is now available to stream on Netflix.